Seeing Your Sense of Smell

  • Published7 Feb 2014
  • Reviewed7 Feb 2014
  • Author Michael W. Richardson
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Olfactory bulbs

This image may look like a carnival mask, but it actually shows the key structures mammals use every time they smell. The “mouth” in the picture highlights the nasal cavity of a developing mouse, which is lined with specialized odor-sensing cells (in green). When the animal breathes in, airborne odor molecules activate these cells, which then signal to the olfactory bulbs — the “eyes” in this image. This brain structure processes the input from the cells in the nasal cavity, differentiating the smell of a blooming flower from bread baking in the oven.

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